A fix to the anti-stall system suspected in the crash of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet that killed 189 people in Indonesia is ready, industry sources said Saturday, as the company tries to avoid a lengthy grounding of its planes.
Southwest owns 34 of the jets, United Airlines has 14 and American Airlines has 24.
American said earlier this month it was flying about 85 flights a day out of its 6,700 daily departures on 737 MAX planes when the grounding was announced.
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Meanwhile, Southwest is preparing to begin moving on Saturday its entire MAX fleet to a facility in Victorville, California, at the southwestern edge of the Mojave Desert.
Acting administrator Dan Elwell told lawmakers last week that the FAA expected Boeing would complete its upgrade as early as March 25, kicking off the approval process.
A USA official briefed on the upgrade, told Reuters news agency that the FAA has not yet signed off on the upgrade and training but the goal is to review them in coming weeks and approve them by April. "That is why, today, we are demanding the FAA take a new look at these orders and their impact, as well as the absence of an Administrator, and make public regulations on any chopping block so we can return to a true culture of safety in the skies". The FAA concluded on March 13 that it saw similarities between the two crashes based on recently analyzed satellite data and evidence investigators found in the wreckage in Ethiopia.
Although the causes of the crashes haven't been determined, investigators in the Lion Air disaster have focused on an automated system created to use information from two sensors to help prevent a unsafe aerodynamic stall. It also included some self-guided instruction, the official added.
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A large portion of the airline's fleet of Boeing 737-300s were moved to the Mojave Desert after their time with the airline came to an end on September 29, 2017 with the fleet slowly dwindling in the last few years before being completely removed just before the 737 MAX 8 would enter service.
The airline said it will contact affected fliers directly.
Boeing said on Saturday it was continuing to schedule meetings with all 737 MAX operators.
Southwest and its SWAPA pilots union "have subject matter experts from our Technical Pilot Team and Training Teams headed to Boeing to review documentation and training associated with the modification to the B737 speed trim system", a spokeswoman said.
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